May 16, 2016

Liberal cuts slow Pacific Highway duplication

Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals have cut $351 million to Pacific Highway funding, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, said today.

Mr Albanese welcomed today’s opening of the Frederickton to Eungai section of the Pacific Highway duplication, but said the Liberals’ bizarre attempts to take credit for the upgrade amounted to yet another stop on the Turnbull Government’s magical infrastructure reannouncement tour.

More than two decades after the horrific Clybucca bus crash, it took a Labor Government to plan, fund and commence the duplication of the notorious 26.5km stretch of the highway.

This section followed the Kempsey bypass, which was fully funded by the former federal Labor Government as part of our economic stimulus program.

In December 2012, Labor announced the selection of contractors for the Frederickton to Eungai section and in 2013 turned the first sod of construction.

The upgrade will improve road safety and boost productivity by reducing traffic congestion. We know motorists want to spend less time on the road and more time at home with their families. That’s why we’re proud to have delivered this upgrade.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that nationwide public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent between the September quarters of 2013 and 2015, and the Liberals are to blame.

Indeed, buried in the Budget was a $351 million cut to investment in the Pacific Highway against what the Government committed in its 2015 National Partnership Agreement with the NSW Government.

That followed a $130 million cut to the Pacific Highway project in the 2015 Budget.

Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to deliver infrastructure investment explains why the Liberals have spent three years making re-announcements, rather than delivering the projects Australia needs.

The Liberals had twelve years under John Howard to duplicate the Pacific Highway, but they sat on their hands and let it decay.

In contrast, we invested $7.9 billion in the project in six years. That’s six times the funding to the Pacific Highway.

Only a Shorten Labor Government can be trusted to finish the Pacific Highway duplication.